A first-principles measure for the twinnability of FCC metals

E. B. Tadmor, N. Bernstein

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Twinnability is the property describing the ease with which a metal plastically deforms by twinning relative to deforming by dislocation-mediated slip. In this paper a theoretical measure for twinnability in face-centered-cubic (fcc) metals is obtained through homogenization of a recently introduced criterion for deformation twinning (DT) at a crack tip in a single crystal. The DT criterion quantifies the competition between slip and twinning at the crack tip as a function of crack orientation and applied loading. The twinnability of bulk material is obtained by constructing a representative volume element of the material as a polycrystal containing a distribution of microcracks and integrating the DT criterion over all possible grain and microcrack orientations. The resulting integral expression depends weakly on Poisson's ratio and significantly on three interfacial energies: the stacking-fault energy, the unstable-stacking energy and the unstable-twinning energy. All these four quantities can be computed from first principles. The weak dependence on Poisson's ratio is exploited to derive a simple and accurate closed-form approximation for twinnability which clarifies its dependence on the remaining material parameters. To validate the new measure, the twinnability of eight pure fcc metals is computed using parameters obtained from quantum-mechanical tight-binding calculations. The ranking of these materials according to their theoretical twinnability agrees with the available experimental evidence, including the low incidence of DT in Al, and predicts that Pd should twin as easily as Cu.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2507-2519
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
E.T. thanks P. van Houtte for useful discussion and for pointing out the English and Chin study on twinning-related texture. E.T. also thanks M. Ortiz for his helpful comments. N.B. acknowledges the support of ONR, NRL, and the DOD HPCMPO CHSSI program.


  • Dislocations
  • First-principle electron theory
  • Peierls model
  • Plastic deformation
  • Twinning


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